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TLBHD - Thinner Lighter Better

Zotac ZBOX nettop- paper thin, razor sharp Home Theater solution

By Mark , updated on June 4, 2014

The word on the nettop street is “how low can you go” in terms of power consumption and physical space required to store a form factor computer. And is what Zotac aims to do with their all new ZBOX, a very slim and light nettop that can deliver stunning HD performance.

If you’re interested in nettops, you know that manufacturers are trying to come up with very small machines, but most of the time this economical thinking behind building an entertainment machine can result in rather modest performance.

It’s not the case with the ZBOX (at all), as this is one of the best nettops out there, while also being one of the slimmest and lightest. In terms of design, the ZBOX looks like something straight out of the Apple assembly line. It has a cool chrome finish with a phosphorescent blue circle in the black half of the exterior. It’s also very slim, something like a very anorexic folded netbook, and its rectangular design makes it easy to mount on the back of a TV for example.

The ZBOX might be little, but it has the punch of a big boy

The ZBOX might be little, but it has the punch of a big boy

The ZBOX is powered by the AMD Fusion E-350 APU, which comprises of a dual core, 1.5 GHZ low power processor and a built-in graphics module, namely the Radeon HD 6310. For what this computer has in mind, namely flawless 1080p playback and streaming HD audio playback, this setup is great, as well as being built to take in way less power than traditional computers. System memory is 2 GB DDR3, which is enough for having a couple of applications running at the same time in the background, while enjoying a Blu Ray quality movie.

That’s right, the ZBOX comes with an optical Blu Ray drive, something you rarely see on nettops and generally on form factor computers. Zotac definitely had in mind the pretentious user that wants a complete experience without having to buy and set up additional gadgets. There’s also a 250 or 320 GB hard disk drive, but you can also choose a barebone version of the ZBOX, which of course comes cheaper, but you’ll have to install the RAM and HDD yourself (not to say you have to buy them separately).

The Blu Ray disk is a premium and welcomed feature for any nettop

The Blu Ray disk is a premium and welcomed feature for any nettop

The ZBOX also comes with support for DTS-HD sound, which is very important if you want to enjoy a movie in outstanding quality, as normal HD sound output won’t quite cut it. The system supports SATA III, meaning you’ll be able to have transfer speeds of 6gbps, as well as a 3.0 USB drive and a couple of USB 2.0 ports. The 3.0 port is great if you want to play a high-definition video straight from the USB without any stuttering. The OS is Windows 7 and you also get a copy of the best DVD/BLU RAY player, Cyberlink PowerDVD software. The ZBOX can be easily installed on the back of a big screen TV, being the size of a book, basically.

For streaming content from the web you have WiFi, so if you have a strong connection at home, you won’t have any problems. Sure, a 3G modem would have been nice, but that type of technology is not quite necessary for HD streaming. The ZBOX goes for about 510 bucks on Amazon, which is a good price for a Home Theater PC, which can also be used as a normal computer for browsing the web or other basic tasks.

Out of the way is the good way for a nettop

Out of the way is the good way for a nettop

All this in a very small package that consumes a fraction of the energy that a big computer takes in. The little guy is fully capable of delivering a stunning home entertainment experience, including 1080P playback, DTS-HD sound and support for Blu-Ray and DVD disks via the built-in optical drive.

For similar such devices, you should also see our post on the best nettops on the market.

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Mark is an Editor here at tlbhd.com . He's studying Screenwriting and Production in "sunny" London and in his spare time, he works as an IT editor for a couple of mobile publications, like this one.
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Hi Mark, nice comments on HD performance and all, but did you actually try the unit out? This is a pricey setup to be dropping money down on specs alone. Might be helpful if you were upfront about this little fact. Thanks.

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